Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
619
4.6 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

The Wheel of Time is finished. That's a statement that's going to take a while to get used to. The first volume of the series, The Eye of the World, was published in January 1990. George Bush Snr. and Margaret Thatcher were still in power and the Cold War was still ongoing. Fourteen books, four million words, eleven thousand pages and over fifty million sales (in North America alone) later, the conclusion has finally arrived. Can it possibly live up to the expectations built up over that time?

It is a tribute to the plotting powers of Robert Jordan, the writing skill of Brandon Sanderson (who took over the series after Jordan's untimely death in 2007) and the hard work of Jordan's editors and assistants that A Memory of Light is - for the most part - a triumphant finale. Given the weight of expectations resting on the novel, not to mention the unfortunate circumstances under it was written, it is unsurprising that it is not perfect. The novel occasionally misfires, is sometimes abrupt in how it resolves long-running plot strands and sometimes feels inconsistent with what has come before. However, it also brings this juggernaut of an epic fantasy narrative to an ending that makes sense, is suitably massive in scope and resolves the series' thematic, plot and character arcs satisfactorily - for the most part.

It is a familiar viewpoint that The Wheel of Time is a slow-burning series, with Robert Jordan not afraid to have his characters sitting around talking about things for entire chapters (or, in one case, an entire novel) rather than getting on with business. However, Jordan at his best used these lengthy dialogue scenes to set up plot twists and explosive confrontations further down the line, pulling together the elements he'd established previously in surprising and interesting ways. This reached a high in the slow-moving sixth book, which ended with what is regarded by many as the series' best climax to date at the Battle of Dumai's Wells. Steven Erikson (whose Malazan series is the most notable recent mega-long fantasy series to have also reached a final conclusion) used the term 'convergence' for such structural climaxes and it's fair to say that this is what A Memory of Light is: a convergence for the entire series. All thirteen of the previous novels lined up plot cannons in preparation for the Last Battle, and in the closing chapters of Towers of Midnight Brandon Sanderson started triggering them.

The result is not The Wheel of Time you may be familiar with. A Memory of Light is a brutal, bruising, 900-page war novel that kicks off with all hell breaking loose and doesn't pause for breath until the ending. The prologue starts with a well-paced sequence as we find out the state of play for the major characters, intercut with Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand engaging hordes of Shadowspawn on the streets of Caemlyn. The rotation of scenes between the desperate street fighting and more familiar politicking is highly effective and is exhausting in itself. Immediately after this we alternate between Rand's attempts to pull together a coalition against the Shadow whilst a small group of Asha'man try to save their organisation from destruction against overwhelming odds. No sooner is that over than the Last Battle is joined in full force. Vast armies clash, channellers engage one another in One Power exchanges that dwarf anything seen before in the series and lots of stuff blows up. There's more action sequences in A Memory of Light than the rest of the series put together, more than earning the adage 'The Last Battle'.

The action sequences (which make up almost the whole book) are, for the most part, impressive but benefit from unpredictability. Jordan has been criticised for making his characters too safe, with almost no major character of note (on either side) dying in the previous books of the series. This limitation has been removed for the Last Battle. Major characters, middling ones and scores of minor ones are scythed down in this final confrontation with near-wild abandon. Some get heroic, fitting, blaze-of-glory ends. Some die in manners so unexpected, offhand and callous that even George R.R. Martin might nod in approval. Many of the survivors are seriously wounded, either in body or mind. Jordan's experiences as a Vietnam vet informed Rand al'Thor's arc in The Gathering Storm, and resurface here when one major character is tortured by the Shadow before being rescued, but spends the rest of the book suffering the effects of his experiences. The war scenes are suitably epic and exciting, but Sanderson remembers to include moments counting the cost of such a struggle.

That said, there is an annoying discrepancy in the Last Battle sequence compared to earlier novels. Based on the army sizes in previous volumes and the number of channellers in each faction, the good guys should have brought the better part of a million troops and five thousand One Power-wielders to the Last Battle, and the Shadow several times more. There is no indication that such vast numbers are present, which seems rather odd. There is also the fact that the channellers suddenly seem to be much less effective in mass combat than previously shown. This is most blatant when Logain is angrily told that he and a couple of dozen Asha'man cannot hope to defeat a hundred thousand Trollocs by themselves. Given this is exactly what happened in one scene in Knife of Dreams, I can only conclude that the channellers were deliberately reduced in power for this book, which is very strange.

For the most part, this is the level of problems A Memory of Light presents: something mildly irritating to those who prefer consistency from fictional works but ultimately not hugely relevant to the overall thrust of the narrative. Similar issues can be found with a number of very minor subplots that the novel fails to resolve (or even address) from earlier volumes. In some cases these may be examples of what Robert Jordan himself said would happen in the last book, with some elements left deliberately hanging to give the illusion that life goes on after the last page is turned. In other cases, it may be that Jordan did not draft out how those storylines ended, so Sanderson chose to leave them rather than risk too inventing too much of his own material. Sanderson even refuses to name an important river that Jordan did not name himself, resulting is a slightly awkward battle sequence where characters talk about the 'river on the border', the 'river on the battlefield' and so on, which is a bit laboured.

However, whilst the war scenes rage there is also a philosophical struggle at the heart of the book, and of the series. This struggle is shown in the confrontation between Rand and the Dark One in which their visions of the world and the Wheel are shown in conflict with one another. Robert Jordan was convinced that whilst there were certainly complexities and shades of grey in real life, he also believed that real good and real evil existed, and these ideas form part of the philosophical struggle that takes place alongside the battles. How successful this is will vary (perhaps immensely) from reader to reader, but is not helped by some muddling of the issues. The primary struggle of the books has consistently been Good vs. Evil, but in this philosophy-off the idea of the Creator personifying Order and the Dark One Chaos also arises, possibly as their primary roles. This is in conflict with the rest of the series and is also more tiresomely familiar and predictable. Once that interpretation arises, it's impossible not to think of the ending of the Shadow War in the TV series Babylon 5, and the resolution we get is not a million miles away from it (Rand even gets a line almost as awful as "Get the hell out of our galaxy!").

On the prose side of things, it's pretty much the same set-up as The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight: acceptable, faster-paced and a bit less prone to unnecessary introspection. Where Sanderson comes undone (yet again) is his very occasional use of terminology and language that Jordan would never have used, particularly modern words and terms. Though relatively rare, they still jar a little bit when they appear. The book's centrepiece is a single chapter that is almost 200 pages (and 70,000 words) long in hardcover, with some 70 POV characters playing a role. Apparently both Sanderson and Jordan wrote parts of this chapter, and a few minor inconsistencies aside their writing styles mesh very well. The very last section of the epilogue, written by Robert Jordan himself before he passed (including, rather eerily, Jordan's epitaph from his own funeral), is indeed a fitting way to end the book.

Taking everything into account, A Memory of Light is a lot better than perhaps we had any right to expect. The book is a relentless steamroller of action, explosions, plot resolutions, deaths and philosophical (if somewhat confused) arguing. Some elements are under-resolved, or a little too convenient, or not fleshed out enough. But that's par for the course with any ending to a series this huge. The big questions are answered, the final scene is fitting and the story ends in a way that is true to itself, which is the most we can ask for.
77 comments| 183 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 January 2013
I feel emotionally battered and bruised after finishing A Memory of Light but also satisfied.

After the last 20 years I am used to the enjoyable slow burn of the Wheel of Time novels. The final novel in the series, 'A Memory of Light' is different. It is brutal, an assault on the senses, the action does not relent and you are left in no doubt the 'Last Battle' is here.

The book itself is epic. The battle scenes are intense and are wonderfully written. Characters finish their arcs sometimes in blazes of glory, other times in brutally unexpected ways, and the heroes journeys are ended.

A very minor gripe is that the ending left many subplots open for interpretation which is not normally a bad thing but somewhere deep down I feel that after a 20+ year investment I could have seen a slightly longer epilogue.

As a side note to the publisher I was also slightly frustrated I was unable to get this as an ebook/kindle on release.

A very worthy end to a wonderful series.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 January 2013
Lord knows the Wheel of Time series has flaws. All fans know that. Plot missteps, idiosyncratic touches which did not always work. Characterization that did not work for everyone.

Nevertheless, no series - none - has earned its ending volume quite like The Wheel of Time. Epic is a word that is overused, but for this series, it genuinely has to apply. No series earns its sacrfices, its twists, its darker moments, with quite the weight of this series. The scale, the depth, the engagement with characters taking dark, sometimes unpalatable paths, and, yes, the length, all contribute to this. None of its flaws overcome how much impact the journey of the series has had on me, and has truly tested the standard forms of the genre while making them feel real and emotionally satisfying; the role of any good reconstructionist.

Rand al Thor was the Chosen One, and no Chosen One ever suffered so much, transformed so much - even into places which were not pleasant - and actually earned the Chosen One label like he did. His journey was real, tragic and draining, and yet his position as prophesized chosen did not feel cheap, as it so often does, as he plainly was the chosen figure of the world for demonstrable reason, a force on the Pattern as much as the evil they all faced. And with a case of engaging, flawed, heroic, complex and yes, even frustrating, core characters, the series built a world of enviable complexity and idiotic humanity, that drew us in even when it dragged or annoyed. Even the seemingly two dimensional had true depth to them. People changed, grew, devolved and above all lived.

No world ever suffered like the world of the Wheel of Time, or at least not for so long in our memories building for book after book. We saw it approaching the end for so long, and believed it, building an apocalypse that matches the dread of the bleak brutality of Westeros despite the vastly different styles of writing. Whole nations seemed to have their own stories we only glimpsed, and yet did not feel tacked on but part of the overall chaos these characters experienced. The atrocities and heroics did not take place in some flimsy construct, but in a land which gave it all weight.

As a finale, A Memory of Light could be hard to follow sometimes, flitting about at light speed between seemingly hundreds of locations and characters coming together in, appropriately, one giant tapestry of epic conclusion. It was only ever going to be thus. As the final planned third of the final book, the glut of action was inevitable, and the confusing mass of characters, motivations and backstories is par for the course for Wheel of Time fans. There are moments of humour (mostly from Mat ;)), glorious heroics, heartbreaking sacrifices and moments of incredible tension as the costs of actions took on all involved.

It was well structured despite the action heavy focus, juggling the incredible weaving of plots with skill, and had moments of emotional power throughout, and I read it all in one day.

Was it perfect? No. I mostly adored the ending conflict and scenes, but without spoiling felt the emotion was undercut by some decisions. It did feel very rushed, as though some other plots should have been resolved or at least addressed in the previous two volumes, leading to some exchanges that just seemed too brief for the occasion, and for my own personal preferences, there was still too much focus on some characters I'm not particularly fond of, but that's on me. I do like being able to imagine the stories of characters beyond an ending, even if I don't necessarily care to see any (which is one problem I had with Mass Effect 3's ending - wondering what the point of all the emotion and energy put into the world and characters had been for if I couldn't picture how things might play out, for good or ill), and appreciated that the world of the books feels real to me, even after this epic story has concluded. There will be triumphs and disasters for these people and world, even if we do not get to see them.

I would thoroughly recommend this series despite all its flaws and length, for though its style might not be for all to enjoy, its development of character in sometimes unexpected directions, it's grand plot that attempts a truly world shattering, high stakes end of world scenario, without copping out on the scale, even if it does require splitting of focus in many places and among many people to keep a character focus to emotionally invest us. And A Memory of Light delivered on much of what was promised. It was a good Wheel of Time book, a mostly fitting conclusion which did not hold back and was not afraid to take risks with characters or plots. Not all of those I liked, even including with the ending, but any negatives won't stay with me in the face of all the good. I read the whole thing in less than 6 hours I was that gripped with its tale.

Well written, emotional, exciting, epic. Fans should be pleased with the finale we got (minor quibbles aside), and what a journey it has been to experience along with all its players. Nostalgia for the whole series makes me want to give it a five star, but four is still great, make no mistake. I look forward to many more rereads of the whole series, and recommend all do the same, with this book in many ways a glorious celebration of the series.
33 comments| 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 February 2016
I've given all the other books 5 stars in this series - it is a truly epic fantasy saga. PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD
So a random sentence so that you can stop reading before I spoil some of the plot.

So a when a major character dies I felt massively disappointed. It isn't one of the ones everyone likes but when he/she dies you then realise how much you liked the character and how much you'd invested in that character over 14 massive books. It is completely unexpected and almost unnecessary - as if Brian Sanderson felt he had to kill one of the main characters and chose the one he thought would be missed least! There are few plot lines not tied up: like who Olver was when he was spun out of the pattern (it should be obvious him being so ugly and all but I'd have liked it confirmed and explained why he could blow the horn of Valere when he might have been one of the heroes summoned previously), also Logain's glory could have been worked in instead of being postponed. I'd also have liked to have seen the Seachan start the process of change towards the damme.

Towards the end of the saga you realise how much your time and emotional investment depends upon this one final book. It was never going to be perfect - everybody can't all survive the final battle so this made a good ending.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 January 2013
Without a doubt, I expected this to be epic, but I wasn't prepared for the scale of the Last Battle. From pretty much the first page right up until the last chapter, A Memory of Light delivers hard hitting, complex and fast paced action sequences interspersed with pacy dialogue and characters who die frequently.

How on earth BS managed to write this I have no idea, but I would heartily recommend it.

Just... damn. Awesome.
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2015
I thought this was a great finale for the Wheel of Time. It's a breathless rollercoaster of a finale, its entire span taken up by the final battle (which some readers have been waiting for since 1990).

It's absolutely riveting - I couldn't wait to read the book each day to move the story along - the pace and interest definitely picked up with Sanderson taking the helm, and I've really enjoyed all 3 of his books.

The minor point is that I felt a couple of the main bad guys were a bit too summarily dealt with - but that is a couple of minor quibbles - there are so many superb moments, and excellent resolutions to so many characters that it was impossible not to enjoy.

I'm sad it's over, but delighted that it got a fitting end to one of the best sagas ever written.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 January 2013
This book is an action packed and fitting end to a series that I have read since it was first published. Admittedly the series started to drag in the middle but it picked up again and this is great finale. It is non stop action from beginning to end. There are parts that I would have liked resolved better (the seanchan and their damane for instance) but overall the ending is satisfying. If you have not read this epic series then buy The Eye of the World and start reading it. This is a masterpiece of modern fantasy which is the best or at the very least comfortably compares with the best in the genre. All I can say is thank you Robert Jordan for the series and may you rest in peace and thank you Brandon Sanderson for finishing it so ably.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 December 2014
The final ending to an epic story. Have enjoyed the story immensely. Some of the characters it seems were impossible for the enemy to kill off despite mortally wounding them. The final ending left some questions unanswered regarding the central character Rand how he was able to become Moridin for example. Oh well as long as good triumphs over evil who cares.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 January 2013
great book loved it, dont pay attension to those fools who give one star because of no ebook. You should know that they do that to prevent people from torrenting ebooks on release day and hurting those who spent thier lifetimes writing brilliant books for us to read. 'punishing publishers' by giving 1 star is childish and is an insult o the legacy of the wheel of time. once again great conclusion to a truly epic series
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 May 2015
I love Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books, I would want to as I've been reading them since the 90's, great characters, lovely rambling storie lines that remind me of my grandfather's tales of youth, stunning detail about seemingly unimportant things...like Times treasures seen from a great distance. Wonderful decades of treasure. My great thanks to him in heaven for completing this epic and to B.S. for taking on another man's memories and stories and doing them great justice - a mark of a great tale teller too. XXX
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.


Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)